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Can I/should I do this?

Justin Oakley

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Hello all,

I’m a self-taught, self-funded filmmaker. I have a full time job as a fireman, but I obsess and geek out over this stuff and I’ve made it kind of a mission of mine to learn everything there is to know about the filmmaking process—from script to post production. I’ve been tackling every aspect and learning about all of the technical stuff and little nuances.

I’m here because the steadicam REALLY really interests me. But I haven’t really been presented with an opportunity to operate one. Unlike a lot of tools and techniques in this game, the steadicam isn’t exactly something that a guy like me can just pick up (even used) and learn.

I know the question inevitably will be “what is your end state?” And I guess it’s really just to make cool stuff. There is no short supply of filmmakers in my state. And I’m always putting myself out there, getting on different projects and assisting in pretty much any department. But I think it would be really cool if I could make myself “marketable” (for lack of a better term)  and eventually sought after as a camera operator… Specifically a steady cam operator.

I’m just a nobody. Again, self funded. I have a decent little camera package going on… For a guy with my budget and resources. I use the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K, with all the bells and whistles (or at least most of them). So it has a little heft to it. 

I have considered cheaper options, but you know how that goes. They could turn out to be utter garbage. 

so I guess my two main questions are 

1) what is the cheapest one could get a used steady cam package for? Or even suggestions for a steadicam knock off that isn’t ridiculous cheap trash.

2) is it even realistic for someone like me to go down this route and try to learn how to fly these things? 

I currently have a glide cam HD 4000, but I have to strip my camera down pretty light and use batteries that kind of suck. I have thought about motorized gimbals and all that. But I just like the steady cam better.

if you’re still here, thanks for reading my long winded post.

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Justin, thanks for all that you do as a firefighter, I have a lot of family and friends in that line of work. I actually started on a glidecam 4000 myself. I eventually upgraded and got an arm and vest which significantly improved my payload. I was able to fly a sony fs700, odyssey monitor, and v mount battery no problem. Similarly I flew a RED Raven package with a smallHD monitor easily. The vest and arm are called x-10 I believe and I bought the whole rig for about $1,100. It was a great starter for me. If you are able to save you can also go with the Tiffen Aero 15 or 30. It's around 5k. I know that Steadicam was giving 1k back on a recent promotion. It may be worth looking into. I hope this helps!

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Welcome to the Forum. And, thank you for your work as a Fireman. Where do you live? I'd recommend taking a Steadicam workshop either through The SOA (Steadicam Operator's Association) or one of the other groups (the SOA is my favorite). They will go over all of this stuff as well as teach you the ins and outs of Steadicam.

This Forum is an excellent resource and I highly recommend you dig in deep (maybe you already are).

Take good care,

Alec Jarnagin, SOC

Steadicam Forum Moderator








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Your question is one that I think most of us have asked ourselves before diving in.

If it really interests you, do it! It's better to pursue this with passion than anything else. 

I'll second what Alec said about the workshop. It will cost you money but it's a great investment and amazing experience in itself. 

I'd also buy a well-taken care of, used rig rather than a knockoff brand. 



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Hi Justin. 

You have managed to be stricken with an affliction most on this forum have suffered for many years.

Do it.

But as Kat mentioned a workshop will not only give you insight and technical skills but contacts and relationships that can last a lifetime. Used gear has never been more affordable but most importantly available. There have been times when finding a used professional sled/arm in great shape on the forum was few and far between. Now its a monthly find. Unfortunately the current work climate may dictate pricing to be more in your favor. 

Good luck and don't quit your day job.................just yet.


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